There’s no way to fully express the sadness we feel when a beloved icon passes away. And Prince‘s untimely death hurts a little extra because he was so much more than just a musician. In mourning, it’s easy to get bogged down in how much the world has lost. But there is a silver lining. We get to remember.
It’s incredibly bittersweet, but there is an aspect of death I find comforting. When someone passes away, there’s almost always an outpouring of tribute and remembrance, showcasing what is truly one of the best qualities of humanity. The world has lost an icon, but we can honor Prince’s life by continuing to enjoy the things he gave the world.
This footage from the defunct Muppets Tonight from September of 1997 showed a more jovial side of the legendary performer, then in the “Artist Formerly Known As” stage of his career. Most people at the time, and maybe even today, wouldn’t cast Prince in a comedic light, but his appearance on the show was amazing. Like any variety show, the format of Muppets Tonight required a certain amount of silliness from its guests, and Prince absolutely nailed it. His guest spot can be considered even more impressive not only for his participation in the first level of silliness, but also his going all-in for the Hee Haw parody within the episode.
At the time, Prince was referring to himself with that notorious symbol, and wasn’t afraid of the Muppets poking fun at it on more than one occasion in the episode. Perhaps most fitting for an appearance on a Muppet program was the performance of “Starfish and Coffee” from 1987’s Sign o’ the Times. A wonderfully strange song that still feels right at home in the Muppet universe. It was worked into a bit (5:25 mark) where Prince explains to Rizzo that he can find inspiration for songs anywhere, including the show’s commissary menu.
It was a wonderful glimpse at the funnier side of a phenomenal artist. Prince was a man who proved time and time again that he was capable of absolutely anything. And although it may be way behind things like pushing the boundaries of music, gender, and sexuality, or being one of the most legendary guitarists to ever live, his performance with the Muppets is something we’ll remember forever.